If you are not in a carpet buying mood how do you end up in a carpet store? It appears that if you are on any kind of organized tour (even a small one of eight people) in Turkey, Istanbul, Ephesus, Cappadochia, or anywhere else, the tour will end with light refreshments (no obligation of course!) in a carpet store. As a warm-up to the presentation you can sip Turkish tea, Turkish coffee, fruit juices or get serious with wine or beer. The last two might give you a good excuse for what likely will happen later!
Next you are educated about the many types of Turkish and other oriental carpets. You learn to count the knots and admire the silk on silk (prohibitively expensive) and appreciate how some carpets have taken years to complete. Then you are moved on the more reasonable options like silk on cotton, wool on wool, etc., etc. On top of all this add age and more money. In some stores you will even be given the opportunity to see the ladies weaving on a carpet so you can appreciate the complexity of good carpets.
While enjoying the education, seemingly tens, hundreds, or maybe thousands of carpets have been unrolled before your group, each more beautiful or unusual than the last. At the end of the education, the teacher-head guy is joined by many other of his assistants (salesmen) who give you the individual attention you so richly deserve. They want to know what you especially liked of the “tens of thousands” of carpets piled before you. Don’t flinch or you are putty in a good carpet salesman’s hands. For those who show any interest at all you are taken to a separate show room featuring more of what you like, and away from the distractions of all those “other” people. If these guys were selling cars I would now have a whole fleet of vehicles!
Here, I would like to alert all of you men about the “man vs. woman” issues in a carpet store. My observations and experience tell me that women show a lot more interest in carpet shopping. They must certainly contain an extra chromosome that says they “need” a new carpet! If your spouse will not let you wander off by yourself, you are probably “cooked” and soon to be the owner of a wonderful new Turkish carpet! The issues will now be how complex, how big, and how much. I have often told my friends that I am married to one of the “world’s greatest shoppers” and I know that I have been marched to the edge of the cliff when I am asked “Do you like this one or that one?”
I know that a lot of people really enjoy the combat of bargaining and arguing over the price of the object to be purchased, especially where the art of negotiation is a way of life. My “wonder woman” and I do not fall into this category. We leave disappointed salesmen all over the world. They have to console themselves with having sold the “carpet of the day” with the highest profit margin they have had all week. Go figure!
We do always figure we got our money’s worth and if both parties are happy it must be a fair sale. I am sure we are happy because we have gotten free shipping, free insurance, no sales tax, and they pay any customs fees. The salesman can now still feed his family even though we have been offered a second cup of tea as we are warming up our credit card. So stop by our place any time and admire our new Turkish carpet hallway runner. We charge only a very modest admission charge!
(Published in December 2008 The Good Life Magazine)